Flexible working – thoughts from a working mum

Flexible working – thoughts from a working mum

KIt’s 5am and I’m awake. I’m almost always awake then. Small Boy is an early riser. I’ve been up at 5am for two years straight now. It’s now the norm.

It works in my day jobs’ favour… sort of.

I work full time hours for a large organisation but I compress the bulk of them across three days. Those are the days I go into the office and Small Boy goes to nursery. In some respects, being up at 5am means I can open up my laptop at home and get through my emails, or go into the office early. That’s a good thing, right? I can crack on with some tasks in my PJs before I shower and head on in to the office where I hot desk.

I work two days a week from home and the same rule applies. They are short days worked around Small Boy’s naps and my husband who also compresses his hours. Getting up early means I can do most of the hours first thing before husband leaves for work and while Small Boy has breakfast. If I get an early start, I don’t need to work for too long in the evening. It means that Small Boy gets some time in the day to go out and do something fun, or have a friend over for coffee.

I’m incredibly lucky. I know this.

In principle my day job allows me to work my contracted hours over a window of 5am – 10pm. Of course in practice that doesn’t really work. In an environment where everyone can work flexibly you get some meeting requests at very inconvenient hours (for you, probably not for that person and vice versa).

But still, the thought is there and it does mean I get to have a large part of Monday and Friday’s off, even if I do still work 5 hours or more those days.

I don’t want to work full time. I’m not a career driven person. I just want to earn enough money so we don’t have to worry and if we are lucky might be able to move home to something more suitable for us as a family.

I’m currently in a funk trying to figure out if I can afford to cut back my hours. Spreadsheets are involved.

The flexibility isn’t working for me. I’m always “on” and don’t always have the flexibility home working is intended to provide. Meetings are arranged at times that don’t suit and I end up having to work when I shouldn’t or have already exceeded my contracted hours.

Because I can work from home I do get to do work when I’m home for an emergency – taking calls while nursing my sick child. Or when the office closes with weather or an emergency – I can work from home. These are all good things, right?

Still, I’m lucky I tell myself. I don’t need to worry about putting food on the table; even though the cost of childcare means that luxuries like holidays require a good deal of planning and some of my best money saving skills.

I wonder sometimes if it’s worth it. Should I just bite the bullet and go part time. I’ll have to eventually when Small Boy starts school. I’ll have to do both ends of the school run. Should I just reduce my hours now? I ask myself how much of the pressure I feel is put on by me, the cost of living, childcare and my employer.

Are you a working parent trying to juggle it all? Do you feel like flexible working isn’t working for you? Or do have the balance just right?
Post your tips and experiences in the comment section. I’d love to find a way to make it work better

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6 Comments

  1. 16th January 2018 / 11:47 am

    Hubby worked from home for quite a few years when our youngest was small, but it is so true what you say, he was on call any and all the time. It is like between mobile phones and laptops they expect you will always answer, it can become very intrusive. It is a very hard question that only you can work out, but my advice, if you can afford to cut back a little, then do it. Quality of life is so much more important than fancy trips and money. Good luck lovely, and thank you so much for joining us #abloggingoodtime

  2. 11th January 2018 / 12:45 pm

    I did that kind of ‘flexible’ working, fulltime, for six years. Alongside with having an autistic son and a house in constant need of renovations, and a husband getting increasingly depressed with it all… Ended up burnt out. We made big changes in life to recover from that situation, and we’re on the right way. But we’re not there yet.
    I hope you’ll find a better balance. It’s tough x
    (#ablogginggoodtime)

    • Helen Treharne
      11th January 2018 / 8:42 pm

      I was getting there myself but made some big decisions at Christmas and decided to go back to 30 hours. I now work four days a week in three – 8 in the office and 2 at home each. It’s only been 2 weeks but already I feel like a pressure has been lifted. Thankfully, doing some work on our finances has enabled me to do it. We’ve also made the decision not to move house (packed up twice this year with a purchase falling through at the last minute) so that takes the pressure off a bit. Glad to hear you’re on a better path now.It can be difficult to find something that’s right for you, when you have so much to do.

  3. 11th January 2018 / 9:39 am

    It’s always a juggle when outside work is a necessity, but it has definitely gotten easier for us as the kids are now semi-independent, aged 12 and 14. I work from home mostly and my wife works full-time, so I do get the better deal, but it sure is hectic for us both!

    • Helen Treharne
      11th January 2018 / 8:45 pm

      It sounds like you’ve got a good partnership there. It’s about striking a balance isn’t it?

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